A Northam teacher who suffered life-changing injuries in a head on North Devon Link Road crash is taking on a huge challenge to raise money for the air ambulance which came to her aid.

Lucy McIlroy cannot walk without crutches but plans to attempt 144 steps unaided - the length of time she was in hospital - for Devon Air Ambulance.Lucy McIlroy cannot walk without crutches but plans to attempt 144 steps unaided - the length of time she was in hospital - for Devon Air Ambulance.

Lucy McIlroy now cannot walk without crutches, but on Thursday, October 8 she will aim to walk 144 steps unaided at Westward Ho! Green - one step for each day she was in hospital.

It will be exactly a year since Lucy was driving home from work on the A361 near Knowstone at 4.15pm when she was unable to avoid a red car which was driving on the wrong side of the road, resulting in a massive head on collision.

In the car behind were three Royal Marines who had completed a first aid course that day and, in another car, was a nurse.

Lucy said: “They all helped me, keeping me calm and, more importantly, keeping me still until the road ambulance crew arrived.

“They managed to get a line in me to give me strong pain relief. The fire brigade arrived and began cutting me out of my car. Eventually I was able to be moved to the air ambulance.”

The 49-year-old suffered extensive injuries – a fractured pelvis, hip and head of the femur and had a titanium rod attached to her femur.

Her knee was reconstructed, her fibia was broken and her ankle was completely displaced.

She said: “The immediate diagnosis of the orthopaedic consultant was that I would be unlikely to ever walk again. Without the air ambulance my injuries could have been worsened by a road journey to Plymouth.

“I’ve had to learn to walk again and will probably walk with one crutch for the rest of my life. My challenge is to walk 144 steps unaided, no crutches, no hands. I have nerve damage in my foot and walking is not easy.

“I was in hospital for five months recovering from my injuries, learning to walk again and being treated for PTSD. Apart from physically saying thank you to the Devon Air Ambulance crew, I can think of no better way to show my extreme gratitude to this charity by taking on this challenge.”

Lucy, who taught English to asylum-seeking children – some of whom had been trafficked – and her husband Steve plan to meet with the marines to thank them, but she was unable to trace the nurse, who she believes was named Theresa.

A man was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention and received a 10-month driving ban and fine.

Lucy hopes to raise at least £1,000 for the air ambulance. If you would like to sponsor her, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-mcilroy1 .